Out of my own baggage (sexual and otherwise) and my own hurt were borne sexual frugality and control. Sex was emotionally difficult for me, as I felt too vulnerable. I struggled to trust my husband. I had, as they say, “trust issues.” What began as an attempt to not feel my hurt eventually grew into habits of refusal, rejection, and restriction.
I was a stingy lover. I doled out sexual encounters like a miser, not wanting my husband to develop an expectation of increased frequency. I provided a limited sexual menu so he wouldn’t develop a taste for variety. At my best, I made an effort to see that Big Guy got what he was entitled to—but not a bit more than that.
1 Corinthians 7:5 tells us not to deprive each other. I’m not depriving him, I thought. He gets sex—not as often as he wants, but he wants too much sex anyway. I ignored the fact that I was depriving him—both of us, actually—of a truly intimate sexual relationship.
A bit later, 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a handy list of what love is. I used it to tally up the ways my husband didn’t love me properly. It didn’t occur to me that the verses were telling me how to love—or that I was keeping score.
A Miser No More
Even after I realized that I needed to work on sex, it took me a long time to change. It was months before my new practices became habits. It was a couple years before those new habits felt natural and comfortable for me.
Although the process of change took time, the motivation behind the change arrive instantaneously, like a light switch. I wrote about this light switch in A Moment of Hard Truth.
In that difficult moment of realizing how I’d hurt my husband, my heart was transformed.
That transformation of my heart has kept the momentum going throughout all my change and growth. It still propels me forward.
My change was a simple one. My heart changed from sparing to generous—including sexually. I stopped carefully portioning out my love and affection for Big Guy. Instead, I aimed to be lavish and bountiful.
Early in the process of change, initiating duty sex five minutes after saying no was a sign of great generosity. A few years later, however, sexual generosity came in the form of me planning, preparing, and performing something specific for my husband.
Both of those things represented all the bounty of what I was able to offer my husband at the time. I gave him all I had to give.
I pursued change in my sexual thoughts, words, and actions. This transformed our marriage—not because I was changing my approach to sex but because I was doing so as a result of a true change in my heart.
About the Heart
I want to make a really important point here:
Real growth in sexual intimacy is less about sex than it is about heart.
If you are at the very beginning of your journey to reclaim and restore your sexuality and sexual intimacy in your marriage, begin with the heart—yours and his.
First, help your heart grow in generosity. Read The Generous Wife. Reading Lori’s blog made me want to keep growing my heart for my husband. Read 1 Corinithians 13 and let it guide you in how you treat your husband and how you think of him.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
When you put these words into practice, you may find that your heart is shaped by your actions. As you learn to love your husband well, your heart should follow.
Second, pursue your husband’s heart. Learn what makes him feel loved. Don’t guess; ask him—and then look for ways to do the things he’s said.
Although this will likely include sex, look for non-sexual ways along with the sexual things. For my husband, this includes sorting out his pills every week and preparing his childhood comfort food when he is sick. Look for ways to love your husband, both in and out of bed.
May Your Love Increase and Overflow
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul says:
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12
Make your love increase and overflow for each other. Our marriages are no exception to that.
The marriage bed is no place to be frugal and controlling, doling out a miserly amount of sex just to be able to check off the “do not deprive” box on our to-do lists.
Rather, the marriage bed should be a place of abundance. It is a place for our love to increase and overflow.
May the love in your marriage bed increase and overflow. Be sexually generous. Be bountiful in your sexual connection.
With a generous heart, lavish your husband with your love.